Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act

    Today, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vermont) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

    First championed in 1994 by then-Senator Biden, VAWA transformed the nation’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault. VAWA has provided funding to states and local communities to develop specialized law enforcement units, provide services to victims, and improve prosecution of these crimes. Since the passage of the Act, the annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped by more than 50%.

    While tremendous progress has been made, violence is still a significant problem facing women, men, families, and communities.  Three women die every day at the hands of husbands or boyfriends. Domestic violence causes two million injuries a year to women and untold amounts of human suffering. Domestic violence shelters are still full, hotlines are ringing, and for every victim who has come forward, many more are suffering alone. And it’s the nation’s youth who are most at risk – young women between the ages of 16-24 suffer from the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault.

  • Supporting Small Businesses by 'Shopping Small'

    Over the weekend, I joined President Obama and millions of Americans, who participated in the second annual Small Business Saturday. I visited several stores in the neighborhood where I grew up in Chicago, including Chant, Freehling Pot and Pan, and 57th St. Books.  

    I got a head start on my holiday shopping, and I was able to support the small businesses that are the backbone of my neighborhood and the economic engine of our country. In neighborhoods all across America, small businesses are creating two out of three of our new jobs. Their owners and employees are our neighbors, our family members, and our friends. They give back to our communities each and every day.

    I am proud to be part of an Administration that supports small businesses every single day of the year. Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law 18 tax cuts for small businesses. He has helped create partnerships such as Startup America to help our nation’s entrepreneurs succeed. He has also taken executive action to speed payments to small businesses as part of the We Can’t Wait initiative.

    As we face the effects of an unprecedented economic crisis, and the deep recession that followed, President Obama understands the size and scope of the challenges that small business owners still face. That is why the American Jobs Act included new rounds of tax cuts for small businesses. It is also one of the reasons President Obama is urging Congress to pass a payroll tax cut that would give the average American family $1,500 more to spend next year.

    There’s no question that our country continues to face enormous challenges. But Small Business Saturday was a reminder that if we each do our part, we will overcome our challenges. As the President put it, “Through events such as Small Business Saturday, we keep our local economies strong and help maintain an American economy that can compete and win in the 21st century.”

  • International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

    Vice President Biden gave a statement last Friday, November 25th, on the Anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women:

    "Every year on November 25, we remember the millions of women affected by violence here in the United States and around the world. Violence against women undermines not only the safety and dignity of millions of women and girls, but also the health, economic stability, and security of nations. The U.S. government remains committed to advancing the rights of women at home and as an integral component of our foreign policy. On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we stand with women and men around the world in saying one violation is one too many, and in renewing our commitment to the right of women and girls to be free from violence and abuse."

  • Happy Thanksgiving: Council on Women and Girls Weekly Highlights

    Welcome to the Council on Women and Girls Weekly Highlights. If you have friends or family who would like to support the efforts of the Council on Women and Girls, please visit our website and share this link with others on Facebook and Twitter.

    Before pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey, President Obama visited New Hampshire on Tuesday to talk about taxes. The payroll tax cut put in place last year will expire in 40 days unless Congress steps in to change that. The President’s American Jobs Act goes even further, providing the average American family with a tax cut of more than $1,500. When it comes to women, the Jobs Act would help to increase the paychecks of 77.9 million women in the workforce – providing us with more money to support ourselves and our families. You can calculate your own savings with this online calculator.

    That savings is money that could be used to help support America's Small Businesses. This Saturday, November 26th, is the second annual Small Business Saturday. Small businesses are the engines of job creation and essential to strengthening our national economy. That’s why the President has cut taxes for small businesses and helped them to get access to the capital they need to expand and create the jobs we need now and for decades to come. Come out on Saturday and support a woman-owned small business in your community.

    Best wishes from all of us at the White House Council on Women and Girls for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

    Students, Country Music and the First Lady

    First Lady Michelle Obama talks to students about the importance of following their passions and chasing their dreams before a workshop with musicians Lyle Lovett, Darius Rucker, and Kris Kristofferson.

    Highlights

    Girls Scouting Science: A Roundtable Discussion

    Domestic Violence Awareness Month Around the Country

    Tapping the Power of Technology to Teach Children Around the World

    Progress and Persistence in Pursuit of Workplace Equality

    Caring for Families of Returning Soldiers

    North Carolina Entrepreneur Says American Jobs Act Will Help Expand Her Business
     

    Avra Siegel is the Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

     

     

     

     

  • Advancing Women’s Leadership in Law Enforcement

    Connie Patrick is Director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), Department of Homeland Security’s law enforcement training organization.  Last year, FLETC trained more than 70,000 law enforcement professionals in skills including fingerprinting, tracking financial transactions, counterterrorism tactics, securing a building and searching a crime scene. Patrick reflects on an event the Center hosted for 21 women leaders in law enforcement.

    Last week, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) hosted 21 women in law enforcement as part of FLETC’s Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Training Program at our headquarters in Glynco, GA. FLETC hosted a week-long leadership training program to help promote and support women’s leadership in law enforcement, discuss current leadership challenges for women in law enforcement, and help facilitate career planning.
     
    During the training program, I had the great privilege to join U.S. Secret Service (USSS) Chief of Staff Julia Pierson and FLETC Assistant Directors Cynthia Atwood and Dominick Braccio for a panel discussion on law enforcement leadership topics. USSS Chief of Staff Pierson began her career as a police officer in Orlando, Florida and then served as a USSS Special Agent assigned to the Miami Field Office.  FLETC Assistant Director Atwood was a special agent at the United States Department of Agriculture before coming to FLETC 15 years ago to promote law enforcement training excellence.  FLETC Assistant Director Braccio has 32 years of law enforcement experience and recently received the Outstanding Advocate for Women in Federal Law Enforcement Award for his contributions in areas of recruiting, retaining, and promoting women in law enforcement from the Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) Foundation.
     
    Advancing Women’s Leadership in Law Enforcement

    The Women in Leadership panelists joined with class members and instructors for a group photo at the Women in Leadership Training Program held at the FLETC headquarters in Glynco, Ga. November 21, 2011.


     

  • Girls Scouting Science: A Roundtable Discussion

    Ed. Note:  The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Council on Women and Girls recently launched the "Women in STEM Speakers Bureau," where top Administration female STEM specialists participate in roundtables with girls in grades 6-12 across the country. The National Science Foundation’s Cora Marrett met with students from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.

    Earlier this month in St. Louis I had the chance to visit with Girl Scouts from the Eastern Missouri Council to talk about science. This was a group of middle school girls, so I thought it might be difficult to engage them in conversation.  But I was wrong!  They shared their aspirations with me, and I was excited to hear about specific fields they were interested in like materials engineering and environmental design.